In a lost season, all you can hope for is any sign of progress for the future. That’s where running backs Justin Forsett and Louis Rankin come in.
The former Pac-10 foes — Rankin attended Washington, Forsett was a Cal Bear — saw extended action in Sunday’s loss to Arizona after starter Julius Jones exited with an injury.
Assuming the majority of the playing time, second-year pro Forsett ran for a career-high 123 yards on 17 carries, notching an impressive 7.2 yards per attempt and recording a touchdown in the process. Compare that to Jones, who has eclipsed the 100-yard mark just once this season, that coming in Week One against St. Louis. In that contest, Jones logged 117 yards and averaged 6.2 yards per attempt, which should put into perspective just how big Forsett’s day truly was for this struggling offense.
In a change of pace role, Rankin, the team’s part-time punt and kick returner, spelled Forsett on certain downs and carried the ball three times for 24 yards, an average of 8.0 yards per attempt. He also hauled in three passes for 24 yards and made for an intriguing one-two punch alongside the diminutive Forsett.
Forsett, the team’s seventh-round draft pick in 2008, is listed at 5’8″, 194 pounds. Though clearly undersized for an NFL back, the 24-year-old is a shifty speedback that hits the hole hard and isn’t afraid to fight for extra yardage.
Contrast that to Rankin, also 24 years of age, listed at 6’1″, 205. The former Oakland Raider provides a big target for quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to throw to, and is a juking-and-jiving presence who, because of his size, is tough to take down on first contact.
Whether Julius Jones returns or not is meaningless at this point. In nine games, the sixth-year pro has amounted just 392 yards on 107 carries. That’s an average of 3.7 yards per attempt, and just 43.5 yards per game. Not featured back numbers by any stretch of the imagination.
In one showing against a solid opposing defense, Forsett and Rankin have earned the right to assume the workload for the Hawks in a season that has slowly slipped away. Never mind about Julius Jones, his ego, or his contract: he flat-out has not gotten the job done.
This is a team building towards 2010 now, and the franchise needs to start exploring options that hold promise for the future. In Justin Forsett and Louis Rankin, the Seahawks may very well have found two of those options.